An NBA source said the Celtics were never serious competitors for Memphis swingman Rudy Gay, who was traded in a three-team deal to the Toronto Raptors Wednesday.
Boston was rumored to be discussing sending franchise cornerstone Paul Pierce to Memphis in exchange for Gay, whom the Grizzlies had been looking to trade for weeks. According to the source, the Celtics didn’t feel Gay was worthy of franchise-player status, or sacrificing Pierce, who has one more year on his contract that is only partially guaranteed.
Gay is averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds and has $37 million remaining on his contract for the next two years.
Gay was sent to the Raptors for Ed Davis, while Toronto shipped Jose Calderon to the Pistons, who sent Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis.
The Celtics also were believed to be interested in Calderon, but his $10 million expiring contract made it a difficult fit unless the Raptors took on two Celtics contracts. The source said that after the recent season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo the Celtics plan to give their core guards a couple of weeks to move on without him.
With Leandro Barbosa, who scored 5 points in 10 minutes during the first half of Wednesday night’s game against the Kings at TD Garden, potentially getting more minutes along with Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Avery Bradley, the Celtics believe they can be competitive without Rondo.
Lee and Bradley will be the starters with Terry and Barbosa coming off the bench.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the club will not make any sudden moves. There has been speculation the Celtics were looking to move Pierce and others after Rondo was ruled out.
Terry still hopeful
Terry said the Celtics’ goal of winning a championship has not changed, despite the absence of Rondo because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. Terry’s play has been uneven this season but he said the team’s current group of guards can compensate for Rondo’s absence.
“The role doesn’t change,” Terry said. “No question, the goal is to win a championship. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been a point guard on a young team that went to the Finals in [2005-06]. I still think we’ve got just as good of a chance as anybody and when we’re playing the right way, moving the ball, and playing defensively like we’re capable of, we’re tough to beat.”
The Celtics notched their two most significant wins of the month – against the Knicks and Heat – without Rondo.
“That’s a great example of showing you that we have the talent to compete and compete at a high level,” Terry said. “We miss him, but he’s not coming back and that’s a reality. So we put that in the back of our mind now and go forward.”
Terry said the team will embrace Rondo, who suffered the first major injury of his career.
“You just want to at this point keep his spirits up, let him know he’s still part of the team and not by [himself],” he said. “We all have to be very supportive at this time because it’s a tough time for him. We’re just going to be very supportive, hope he makes a lot of road trips whenever he gets the surgery and is healthy enough, because he’s still a leader on this team and now he’s an extra set of eyes to see things as players we don’t necessarily see.”
No Dooling return
Keyon Dooling tweeted Wednesday afternoon that he doesn’t plan on returning to the Celtics after telling the Globe Sunday that he would consider a comeback. Dooling, who retired over the summer after some personal issues, is the Celtics’ player development director.
Coach Doc Rivers told the Globe Tuesday that he told Dooling to begin training to return to basketball shape, but he decided against it.
“Hey everyone thank you for all the love and support that you guys give me daily,” he tweeted. “FYI I won’t be returning this season.”
Sullinger not picked
The NBA released the roster for the Rising Stars Challenge, featuring the league’s top first- and second-year players, and Celtics forward was not on it. NBA all-time greats Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will selected nine players each from the list for the Feb. 15 game at All-Star Weekend in Houston.
Sullinger, who has been one of the league’s more impressive rookies in recent weeks, was passed up in favor of Cleveland big man Tyler Zeller and Detroit center Andre Drummond.
Sullinger entered Wednesday night’s game averaging 7.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in January. He left the game 7:52 left in the first quarter with back spasms.
Treatment for Melo
Fab Melo is with the club, but to receive treatment for a quadriceps injury. He did not participate in shootaround Wednesday morning and is expected to join NBADL Maine when healthy . . . Sacramento forward Jason Thompson was listed as questionable with an illness but scored 9 first-half points . . . Isaiah Thomas, who drained the game-winning shot Monday against the Wizards, was in the starting lineup at point guard . . . Because the Celtics have only 13 players on their roster, Rondo was placed on the active list despite his season-ending injury.